Monday, June 9, 2014

Wicked Women - Editing the Doll in Photoshop

Put on your Gunnars and get out your Wacom, it's Photoshop time!

This is the home stretch of this project.  Editing in Photoshop is the last major step in the process.  Today we'll edit the doll base and next week we'll edit an outfit.  After editing, I plan on putting a bit of text in there from each tale & about each character.  Then, it'll be publishing time!

First things first.  I scanned my watercolor paintings on my Canon Pixma scanner/printer.  I scanned each image twice to guarantee that I got all of the image.  Sometimes the top or bottom of a page will get cut off and it's nice to have another image available.  I painted these on 9 inch by 12 inch paper, the max that my scanner can handle.  I scan my images at 600dpi and resize the edited image to 300dpi, which is the recommended dpi for printed images.  Every scanner is different and sometimes you need to tweak the settings to get the colors just right.

I'm working with Photoshop CS4.  I have the current version of PS but it crashes my computer so I choose to use an older version.  Use any image editing software that you're comfortable with! 

I like to edit the doll base first.  This gives me an idea of how to correct the colors on the outfit pages or what needs to be resized.

Here are the two scans of the doll base.  And this is one I take multiple scans!  The image on the left is the first scan.  Part of the base was cut off.  The image on the right is my second scan.  The line on the bottom of the base isn't straight, so that's the first thing I'm going to fix.

Add a guideline to the base to determine where the corrected straight line needs to go.

Using one of the selection tools (I used the Polygonal Lasso Tool), select the part that needs to be straightened.  Copy this to a new layer.

On this new layer, use the Move tool to correct the line.  You'll still see the old line underneath this layer.

And that's the corrected line.  I'll clean up the incorrect line later.  I want these dolls to look hand-painted (since they are!) so I don't want to over-correct.  The rest of the base is ok so I'll leave it.

I want to isolate my signature on another layer as well so that I can put it in its final location later.  Just select it and cut or copy it to a new layer.

There are now three layers: the scan, the edited line, and the signature.  The scan is in the locked background layer and at this point, we'll unlock it.  I need to delete the background.  I like to isolate the doll and outfits from the background, even if the background looks pristine.  It gives me more flexibility should I choose to add a background image or texture.

Some artists will use a mask to isolate the image from the background.  I choose to erase the background.  Either method works.  As always, I suggest you keep an unedited image just in case you need it!

Using one of the selection tools, select the area around the doll and delete it.  Make sure your layer is unlocked so that you get a transparent background.

I like to add a layer under the doll and fill it with a ridiculous color.  I want to see if there are any stray bits of background that I might have missed.  At this point, I merged the corrected line onto the doll layer.

Now comes the tedious part!  I like to take a small, soft brush and erase right along the edge of the image.  I use a soft brush to avoid giving the image a blocky outline.  It's ok if there's a little white along the edge.  Zoom in as close as you need to!  Also - SAVE frequently! 

[Insert Frozen viewing with my kids here. And some singing. Seriously - how can anyone NOT sing along with this movie?!]

And.... background removed!

The background has been completely removed.  Be careful if you choose to erase like I do - there's no going back!  Once the pixels are gone, they're gone.  Erase carefully.

Every page will have its own set of corrections - some big, some small.  This image has a series of very small corrections, such as the dust or pencil marks or whatever they are in the image above.  Use whatever method works for your correction.  I use a combination of the Clone tool and Patch tool, mainly. If I placed the original image next to the corrected image at 100%, you'd never see the difference.  I make the corrections anyway!

Here's an example of editing: the image on the left is unedited and the image on the right is slightly edited.  I darkened some shadows and brightened some highlights.  I want any edits to be subtle!

Here's the final doll.  I added the signature at the bottom.  I also enhanced some of the shadows and highlights a little more.  I like to leave these files as .psd files until the very end then I convert them all to .jpgs or .pngs as needed.

Next week we'll look at editing an outfit!


  1. I like the doll! She reminds me of the evil queen Regina in the Once Upon a Time shows. So I suppose that is fitting! LOL

    1. Thanks! I have to admit, Once Upon a Time was a bit of an influence. I watched the first two seasons - mainly for the costumes!